Brampton City Council unanimously passed a motion at a Special Council Meeting on November 28th in response to overwhelming resident complaints associated with election signs on private property. The motion was moved by Councillor Rowena Santos and seconded by Councillor Gurpartap Singh Toor and amends the city’s Sign By-law to only permit the display of election posters in windows or in windows in doors with this restriction applying to all private property, including residential and non-residential lands.
Rowena Santos, Regional Councillor, Wards 1 and 5, City of Brampton, said, “Lawn signs are an outdated, expensive and ineffective campaign tactic which has become a nuisance for residents, and a huge expense for candidates, their municipality, and the environment. There is no data that shows lawn signs are effective in increasing voter turnout for any candidate or overall in any election. With this change to the sign bylaw, residents will still be able to express their political support for candidates without the drama, distractions and financial and environmental costs. Traditional door to door canvassing together with printed and online materials combined with visual support on windows will make for exciting platform based campaigns and end the sign wars.”
The motion will reduce proliferation of signage throughout the City that causes visual clutter and driver distraction, mitigate the environmental impact of signage and reduce the cost associated with enforcement of the Sign By-law.
“The changes to the election signs by-law are a welcome move to being environmentally conscious as a city. With most election signs being short-term use plastics, it is time to adapt and be innovative with how we campaign and express our political views while being ecologically responsible,” said Gurpartap Singh Toor, Regional Councillor, Wards 9 and 10, City of Brampton.
The motion is consistent with a city staff report (see references below) which provided additional options instead of a complete ban of election signs and the potential for charter rights implications. As stated in the report, the selected option continues to permit the expression of political speech through the posting of election signs, and has several other advantages including:
- Allows renters to display election posters inside of their dwelling and who may have been previously restricted by landlordsor condo boards from showing support of a candidate.
- Reduces visual clutter and minimizes driver distraction while still providing residents, property owners and third party advertisers with a means to express their support for individual candidates and/or support/opposition related to a question on the ballot.
- Continues to provide candidates with an opportunity to secure the consent of a property owner to promote their candidacy.
- Eliminates the opportunity for signs to be tampered with or relocated without the consent of the candidate or occupant.
- Eliminates the opportunity for unlawful posting without consent of the property owner or resident.
- Eliminates the need to determine the extent of the private property boundaries which may be difficult to determine without reference to a survey.
The motion also requires city staff to recommend an increase to fines associated with illegal election signs in order to deter and recuperate costs associated with illegal signs.
With this motion, council expects to finally end the “sign wars” that have plagued the city during election periods.